The experienced pair of Savia Punia and Deep Grace Ekka will continue to be captain and vice-captain of the Indian women's hockey team at the upcoming 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, starting on 28 July.
Hockey India on Thursday announced an 18-member squad for the Commonwealth Games with Savita and Deep Grace at the helm. Both of them were announced as captain and vice-captain for the FIH Women's World Cup, which will be held in Spain and the Netherlands, from July 1-17.
There is one major change in the two squads with goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu coming in for Bichu Devi Kharibam, who was part of the last few matches of the Pro League campaign and has also been picked for the World Cup.
Former captain and forward Rani Rampal will miss the Commonwealth Games too after she was not named for the World Cup.
At the time of the announcement of the World Cup squad a couple of days ago. chief coach Janneke Schopman had said that Rani is still undergoing rehabilitation for her right hamstring injury.
In her absence, the forward line will include the very experienced Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navneet Kaur, Sharmila Devi and youngster Sangita Kumari.
Defenders Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, and Udita have been named in the squad along with midfielders Nisha, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Monika, Neha, Jyoti, Navjot Kaur and Salima Tete.
Tokyo Olympic Games semifinalists, India are placed in pool A along with England, Canada, Wales and Ghana. The team will begin its campaign on July 29 against Ghana.
In their previous outing at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, India had finished fourth after a loss to England in the Bronze medal match. However, after an impressive campaign in their maiden FIH Pro League, in which they finished overall third behind Argentina and the Netherlands, the Indian team is keen on a podium finish in Birmingham.
Speaking about the team selection, Chief Coach Schopman said, "We have chosen an experienced side for the Commonwealth Games and the players believe they have a good shot at a medal this time."
"The team is upbeat after a good outing in the FIH Pro League matches and understand very well that the expectations are also high. We would have finished our World Cup campaign only days before the CWG so it was very essential for us to pick a physically fit team as the recovery time between the two events is just about 10 days," Schopman was quoted as saying by Hockey India in a release.
Goalkeepers: Savita (captain), Rajani Etimarpu
Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka (vice-captain), Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Udita
Midfielders: Nisha, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Monika, Neha, Jyoti, Navjot Kaur, Salima Tete
Forwards: Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navneet Kaur, Sharmila Devi, Sangita Kumari.
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